sport

Salford v St Helens preview

Salford have the opportunity to reach the Super League summit for the first time in their history when they host St Helens on Thursday (8pm).

Last year's wooden-spoon side are enjoying their best start to a top flight season since 1997; when they won their first five outings under the tutelage of Andy Gregory, yet they remained below Bradford Bulls on points difference.

Brian Noble's Red Devils opened their season with victory over Wakefield Wildcats, before racing to a 44-18 win at London Broncos last Saturday.

Similarly, the Saints' 2014 campaign is in the midst of a victorious start after they beat last year's runners-up Warrington Wolves in their season curtain-raiser before beating Hull FC at Langtree Park last time out.

St Helens have won 29 of the 33 Super League meetings between the clubs, with Salford's last home victory being a 42-34 triumph at The Willows in May 2010.

There have been a raft of changes since Saints' 52-10 victory in the corresponding fixture in June 2013, with Salford owner Marwan Koukash investing heavily, with 14 new signings.

However, Noble will be without prop Darrell Griffin and newcomers Rangi Chase and Junior Sa'u, who are all sidelined through injury.

There is a boost for Salford in the form of Adrian Morley, with the veteran captain back to lead the side after sitting out the win over London.

"We've had a little bit of disruption early on with injuries but we've got a good team going out on Thursday and we want a good performance," Noble said.

St Helens coach Nathan Brown has called up back-rower Mark Flanagan, who has not played since sustaining a major knee injury last April.

However, the Saints boss is expected to keep the team that began the season with back-to-back wins as he prepares to face a strengthened Salford side.

"I think what's happened there has been great for the game," Brown claimed. "This game in particular in the past could have been seen as a standard St Helens win I suppose."

Salford: Mullaney, Williams, Gleeson, Sa'u, Meli, Smith, Morley, Lee, Puletua, Hock, Hansen, Fages, Dixon, McPherson, Ashurst, Walton, Johnson, Howarth.

St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Walsh, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler.